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More than friends?

Kerri wrote:

Ok, here's the deal, I've known this guy for a little over a year. He is really nice. He and I have become friends. We talk about alot of things.

Usually we just joke around with each other but sometimes we talk about serious stuff too. Recently he started to have some personal problems and came to me with them. I left him talk and get things off of his chest. I didn't tell him what he should or shouldn't do, I just listened to him.

Some of my other friends are telling me that they think he is interested in more than just a friendship. They told me that he talks about me all the time when I'm not around. He even comes into the place where I work to see if I'm working, he askes them if they have seen me and if not, he leaves. I
didn't believe them until I was at work one day and he came in. He didn't see me and I heard him ask my co worker where I was because he saw that my car was outside and he knew that I was working. My friends asked me why he
is looking for me. When I tell then that he just wants to talk they ask me what we talk about. I promised him that I would keep it between us so I tell them that it is personal. I think they are jealous because he only talks to me.

I guess what I want to know is if you think that they could be right about him wanting more than just friendship? Could it be that I'm to close to the situation to see it?

The problem is I only like him as a friend. He is alot older than I am. I'm glad he feels like he can open up to me and tell me how he feels. If he does want more than friendship, how can I tell him that I don't without hurting his feelings and ruining the friendship?

I would really appreciate your advice. I need someone that will tell me the truth no matter what.

Dear Kerri

You are in a dangerous position, and you need to think very carefully about this.

What is likely to have happened, is that he has become dependent on you, through your amateur 'therapy' sessions, though it is possible that he already had a crush which came first.

The danger is that he will, sooner or later, start making assumptions about your feelings for him - this is quite understandable; you are patient and kind, he's simply misinterpreting this.

At that point, you will either hurt him, or he will simply reject your rejection. Neither of these is good.

It is flattering to have one's advice sought - and I very much enjoy that experience, too. But it is vital to keep a measure of detachment (easy on the web, difficult in person).

I don't doubt your genuine good intentions, but you have not had the benefit of a training in counselling that would have prepared you for this situation.

Start to move him away; instead of helping him yourself, start referring him to other (professional) help; make it clear this is not optional "This is something I just can't help you with; let's talk again when you've spoken to ..."

Always be honest with him, and add in distancing phrases "I'm nothing special - I'd give my best advice to anyone, who wouldn't" If he flatters your abilities, Always, always, reject it "No, I'm just telling you what I think, don't misunderstand me"

Gradually wean him off; be honest, be firm - you'll be fine

You are obviously concerned about this, and you are right to be. Consider getting local advice on this for yourself, if this goes badly.

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